SpaceX founder Elon Musk aims to promote new technology for passenger and freight transportation through the Hyperloop project. He envisages a transport system of pods with a top speed of 1,200 km/hour through a vacuum tube. Each year, a competition has taken place in California where student teams from around the world demonstrate what their transport pods can do. This year’s competition has been cancelled, due largely to the coronavirus crisis.
The Swissloop team, comprising students from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) and other Swiss universities, is a regular contender with new pods for the Hyperloop competition. Last year, the Swissloop pod was even placed second. Despite the coronavirus crisis, Swissloop has worked on a new pod this year, which the team presented to the public on Tuesday. It is named after the famous Swiss race car driver Simona de Silvestro .
The Simona de Silvestro pod is much shorter than its predecessor and its chassis is made of aluminum rather than carbon. The pod is also powered by a much smaller battery and motor than last year’s model. Without the pressure of the competition, the Swissloop team had more time for its development. It used this to refine the linear motor, which helps Swissloop take on a pioneering role. “We are one of the few groups worldwide capable of achieving such high speeds with this size of linear motor,” said Masters student Michael Rogenmoser, in a press release from ETH.
The discoveries made while developing the Swissloop motor are a potentially valuable source of scientific knowledge as well. This has prompted Swissloop to organize a series of online seminars with researchers and students from across the globe. In the meantime, the team hopes to take its pod out to California again soon.